The Arts to End Slavery Conference was the culmination of the A2ES project. The purpose of the conference was to bring together stakeholders dealing with human trafficking in Kenya in one setting to discuss human trafficking in Kenya. We wanted to hold the conference after the month long art exhibitions around the Nairobi. The conference targeted a hundred people from the civil society, government, media and even religious leaders.
We held the conference on the 26th of June at Pride Inn Hotel in Westlands. The conference was to start at 10 am in the morning and by eight o’clock the participants had already started arriving at the venue. We had invited more than one hundred people and most of them had confirmed to attend for either a session or the whole day. The conference was divided into two sections, the first part was to deal with human trafficking and the second part was to handle how we can use art for social change.
The guest of honor was the Austrian ambassador, Dr. Harald Gunther. The Austrian embassy was one of the main donors for the Arts to end Slavery project. The other donors were Miseror and GIZ and both were also sending representatives to attend the conference. Most of the participants arrived by 10 am and the conference was started promptly with the opening address by the ambassador. His address covered the importance of highlighting the issue of human trafficking and the fact that it was not only a Kenyan problem but a global issue that required combined efforts from different players to completely eradicate.
The presentations on human trafficking were done by HAART founder and director Radoslaw Malinowski, HAART Therapist Khayundi Bwali, The CRADLE Children Foundation Director and Chairperson of the Counter Trafficking Advisory Committee Juliet Nyambura Gachanja, UNODC’s National Project Coordinator Noela Barasa, IOM’s Programme Assistant Mariana Kipsy and HAART’s Programme Manager Jakob Christensen presented a thesis that was done by Anni Alexander. All these presentations were followed by a question and answer session where the participants got the opportunity to interact with the presenters. The second part of the conference focusing on art had the following presenters: Wambui Kamiru from Kuona Trust, Xavier Verhoest from Art2Be and we also had artists from the A2ES project talk about their experience in working for the project. Robert Dinda, James Wamalwa and Mercy Nguyo were the three artists that presented their work. Robert Dinda in turn also received an award for being the best artist as chosen by our victims. The other award was given to Mustafa Ibrahim who was recognized for being a champion for fighting modern slavery. He was extremely helpful in the repatriation of 31 victims from Libya last year that was done by HAAART, IOM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The attendance was commendable. We had 85 people who were not from HAART, this included civil society, media and religious leaders. In total, we had more than a hundred participants when you include HAART staff and volunteers who tirelessly gave their efforts to ensure that everything went as planned. The feedback from the participants was that the conference was both interesting and informative. This being the first time that HAART has done such an event, we were not only happy with the results but also the feedback that we got. We look forward to holding such events in future.